RAP Sheet

Gay Marriage Pioneer Chosen to Argue Supreme Court Case

posted on March 31, 2015

Richard Wolf of USA Today reports that plaintiffs for the states of Kentucky and Michigan have chosen Mary Bonauto, the lawyer who won the first case in Massachusetts in 2003, to present their case before the Supreme Court. Bonauto is the civil rights project director for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, and has defended gay rights for nearly two decades. Bonauto remains confident before the case, saying in an interview, “We’re at a point where it would be shocking if the Supreme Court said it was permissible to deny marriage licenses to gay couples.”

Read at USA Today

Pence defends Indiana Law, Says State Will ‘Fix’ Religious Bill to Say it Will Not Allow Discrimination

posted on March 31, 2015

Mark Berman of The Washington Post reports, “Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) vowed Tuesday morning that the state would alter a religious liberties bill that has drawn widespread criticism, even as he defended the law and insisted it was being unfairly portrayed in the media.” Pence sought to clarify that the bill does not allow businesses to refuse service to gays, but rather provides greater latitude of religious freedom. “This legislation was designed to ensure the vitality of religious liberty in the Hoosier state,” Governor Pence said. “This law does not give anyone a license to discriminate.”

Read at The Washington Post

Arizona Governor Signs Bill Blocking Abortion Coverage through Obamacare

posted on March 31, 2015

David Schwartz of Reuters reports, “Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey signed a law on Monday that requires doctors to tell women that drug-induced abortions can be reversed and that blocks the purchase of insurance on the Obamacare health exchange that includes abortion coverage.” While critics argue that the government is interfering in the medical decisions of women, proponents claim that the bill prevents taxpayers from funding abortions. Countless more lives will be saved, and women spared a lifetime of regret,” said Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy.

Read at Reuters

Supreme Court Leaves Intact New York’s Ban on Religious Services in Schools

posted on March 31, 2015

Sharon Otterman of The New York Times reports, “The Supreme Court declined on Monday to review a case involving New York City’s ban on religious groups’ holding worship services in public school buildings, leaving in place a decision by a lower court that found the longstanding policy constitutional.” However, Mayor Bill de Blasio will allow religious organizations to continue to use the public spaces until an agreement can be reached. “Now that litigation has concluded, the city will develop rules of the road that respect the rights of both religious groups and nonparticipants,” said spokesman Wiley Norvell. “While we review and revise the rules, groups currently permitted to use schools for worship will continue to be able to worship on school premises.”

Read at The New York Times

Indiana Governor Mike Pence Vows State Won’t Change “Religious Freedom” Law

posted on March 30, 2015

At Bloomberg Politics, David Lerman and Jack Clark report that Indiana Governor Mike Pence is refuting criticism of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act he signed last Thursday. The act, condemned for apparently allowing businesses to discriminate on religious grounds, has led to economic consequences as industry leaders speak out against the law and pull projects from Indiana. “We’ve been under an avalanche of intolerance and I’m not going to take it lying down,” Governor Pence said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “We’re not going to change the law.”

Read at Bloomberg Politics

Death, Redesigned

posted on March 30, 2015

In California Sunday, Jon Mooallem profiles Paul Bennett, the chief creative officer at the multifaceted branding and design company Ideo who began to see death as a design opportunity after his father passed away. Mooallem follows Bennett through the project’s successes (partnership with San Francisco’s Zen Hospice Project) and failures (an app for organizing posthumous affairs called After I Go) from 2013 to February of this year. “A year earlier, Bennett’s crusade against death seemed to be motivated entirely by his frustration with the way his father died,” Mooallem writes. “But over time it was evolving into something more nuanced, inclusive, and humane.”

Read at California Sunday

God and Jeb

posted on March 30, 2015

In National Journal, Tim Alberta and Tiffany Stanley (who is managing editor of Religion & Politics) explore the Catholic faith of Jeb Bush and the complicated relationship between the potential 2016 candidate and religiously conservative voters. Bush has been meeting with influential evangelical and Catholic leaders over the past year and garnering their support, yet some still view him warily. Difficulties may exist partly because Bush is quieter about his faith than other candidates, the authors write. “And part of it may be shrewd politics: The man who famously said that a Republican must be willing to ‘lose the primary to win the general’ in 2016 wants to court religious voters without taking the kinds of hard-line stands that could hurt him in the general election.”

Read at National Journal

The Friendly Atheists Next Door

posted on March 30, 2015

At CNN, Daniel Burke profiles Harry Shaughnessy, an ex-Catholic and a member of America’s growing cadre of the religiously unaffiliated. In maintaining a secular family, community, and political movement, Burke writes, nonbelievers like Shaughnessy take cues from their previous faiths, belying the stereotypes that prevent atheists in the U.S. from taking political office or seeming trustworthy. “They are neither famous nor angry. They’re not Bill Maher or Richard Dawkins. They are friendly, next-door neighbors who work regular-Joe jobs, ferry their children to soccer practice and try to lead happy, honest lives without faith,” Burke writes.

Read at CNN

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